I watch as The Thinker and his cousins hurl themselves off the diving board. Over and over, they run and fly through the air -- their bodies contorted in various shapes before they splash into the warm lake water. Their faces bob up with smiles as they blink to clear their eyes so they can do it again.
I am impressed by their bravery.
And I watch The Stinker as he watches. In life-vest, he stands and smiles at the others, but he never jumps. Ever. And in him I see myself.
I have been on that dock many times. Like him, I'd swim out in my vest, paddling furiously to keep up with everyone older than I. I'd reach the ladder, climb up carefully and watch as cousins or my sister's friends would swim with the fish. They'd dive or go beneath the dock, coming up to tell tall tales of what was below.
I would sit and wach safely in the center of the dock, so that not even a toe could get a nibble from what might be lurking in the water. And I'd get up the courage to go back to shore. Then came time for my only jump -- not off the diving board, mind you. It was in the wrong direction. But from the side, I'd fling myself as far away from the dock and as close to the shore as I could, then swim scared until my feet touched sand.
I know the fear that keeps one from living. I know what it means to miss opportunities because of dreaded imaginings. I know what it is to not be able to sleep because of anxiety. I know what it means to swim in apprehension.
I know my Stinker . . . he who is afraid of the dark and scares easily at movies and books. And so I pray for him to to dive out of his comfort and swim in freedom.
And so discover that the greatest fear lives in the mind, not in the water.
"So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand . . . For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:10, 13